Today is Equal Pay Day, an annual day to highlight the pay gap between men and women. According to the Census Bureau’s data on wages, men in full-time jobs earned a median of $50,033 in 2013, while women earned $39,157. That equates to a woman earning 78 cents for every $1 earned by a man, and means that a woman would have to work from January 1, 2014 to April 14, 2015 to match what a man earned in just 2014.
That data is only true for regular 40 hours per week jobs however. In industries such as the fashion industry, female models make significantly more than their male counterparts. The same is true in the porn industry where a male pornstar makes considerably less than a female pornstar in the exact same sex scene.
National legislation was passed in 1963, when John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Law into effect, overcoming opposition from business leaders and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who were concerned that women workers were more costly than male ones. When he signed the bill, Kennedy called it a “significant step forward,” and noted that, “It affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelopes.” The next year, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, origin, color, religion or sex.
There have been more legal wins for female workers since then. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 protected pregnant employees, and the Family and Medical Leave act of 1991 allowed parents regardless of genders to take time off. But despite the fact that women made up almost 58% of the labor force in 2012, they still made only 77 cents for every dollar a man made, according to the National Equal Pay Task Force. In 2009, President Obama chose the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as his first piece of legislation, which restores some protections against discrimination that had been stripped in a 2007 Supreme Court case, and incentivizes employers to make their payrolls more fair.
But progress is still slow. Last year, a bill that would have made it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who discuss their wages failed in the Senate.